The Transit of Venus is an astronomical event that happens in pairs, eight years apart and then more than 100 years of interlude until the next occurrence. In only four days, the second transit of the pair will perform for us, and it will be the last time anyone alive today will see a transit of Venus from Earth. The next one will be in the year 2117.
I am currently writing from the HMB Endeavour replica as the astronomer on the ship on its way to Lord Howe Island where we will set up an observing station for the Transit of Venus. The last transit of the previous pair, in 1882, was observed from this island. The place was Transit Hill, a beautiful landmark that looks east, easily accessible if you are up for a hike.
It is a humbling experience to be part of an expedition that resembles the great voyages of the eighteenth century. It quickly becomes clear that a ship of this nature needs to work as a single entity. It is an organic behaviour where men and ship act in perfect synchronicity moving towards a destiny. Every man has a task, and every place a reason to be. It is only the experience of the professional crew that enables the rest of us to be part of this adventure.
Our setting on the island will be a short distance north from Transit Hill, at the location of the old meteorological station. We will stream live over a satellite connection for the Australian National Maritime Museum. For visitors to the site we will install two other instruments: a telescope for direct observation and a projection screen where the image of the Sun will be visible to a wider number of viewers.
Other activities are planned for the school and the Lord Howe Island Museum. I will be sharing the astronomical details of the event. Dr. Alex Cook will hold a series of talks throughout the day at the Museum. It will be Alex himself writing tomorrow and updating you with the latest news from our trip. I will be back in two days, until then.